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California

Fresno County man charged in string of three killings

Buford King
Buford King, 33, was charged Wednesday with three counts of murder.
(Fresno County Sheriff’s Office)

A 33-year-old Fresno County man was charged Wednesday with three counts of murder in connection with crimes that authorities say warrant calling him a serial killer.

Buford King was arrested after a three-year investigation into the deaths of one man who went missing in 2011 and two others who went missing in 2016, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

At a news conference Wednesday, Fresno County Undersheriff Steve Wilkins said that it’s a “definite possibility” that there may be other victims, but said he could not elaborate on why or how detectives think that because it is an ongoing investigation.

“King meets the criteria of a serial killer, which the FBI defines as someone who murders two or more people in separate events,” Wilkins said.

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Each of the three men that King is alleged to have killed were acquaintances. Wilkins said investigators know how the men were killed but were not releasing that information.

The first slaying victim, 51-year-old Visalia resident Alberto Contreras, was last seen in January 2011 and reported missing to the Visalia Police Department that July. His remains were found in April on land in Visalia where King previously lived, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aleksey Shelest, a 35-year-old Fresno County man, was last heard from on May 18, 2016, and was reported missing 11 days later. This March, after a search warrant was served, detectives uncovered Shelest’s bones after six straight days of digging on King’s property about 40 miles east of Fresno.

Donnie Lee, a 62-year-old Fresno County man who lived in a trailer on King’s property, was last seen on Nov. 1, 2016, while on the property. He was reported missing about three weeks later. His remains were found in April on the property by the same crews who found Contreras’ remains in Visalia.

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Lee’s daughter Jessica Brumley said at the news conference that she found out Wednesday morning that authorities had found her father’s remains and was grateful the family could finally have a funeral for him.

“My dad was a good man, he was a hardworking man, and it’s sad he had to meet such circumstances. But we’ve prayed for a long time for closure and for justice to be served, and our God answers prayers,” Brumley said.

King’s bail is set at $3 million.


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